Tenants facing homelessness must continue to get legal aid support as the evictions ban ends, warns the Law Society of England and Wales.
Bailiff enforcement restrictions have been lifted while from Tuesday (1st June), notice periods for Section 21, non-egregious Section 8 grounds and rent arrears of less than four months’ rent will drop from six to four months. The society fears that with the re-emergence of possession orders, there’s a greater risk of homelessness.
In February, a mediation pilot was introduced as part of the court process for housing possession cases, which is free for landlords and tenants, helping to resolve cases without the need for a face-to-face court hearing during evictions.
However, its president Stephanie Boyce (pictured) says legal advice must be available to all tenants facing eviction from their homes, no matter the circumstances surrounding the eviction, particularly when homelessness is a likely outcome – and the earlier the advice can be received the better.
She says: “While all efforts should be made to keep tenants and landlords talking and to ensure court litigation is undertaken as a last resort, caution should continue to be exercised around replacing legal advice with mediation.
“While the cases of Covid-19 have significantly reduced, the economic impacts of the pandemic continue. A balancing of tenant and landlord rights, therefore, needs to continue to be undertaken.”
In November to December 2020, 9% of private renters – 350,000 households – were in arrears, up from 3% in 2019 to 2020.
Adds Boyce: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a testing time for landlords and tenants alike. As we mark the end of the eviction ban, we urge the UK government to be cautious of next steps and to act in the best interest of the public.”
Read more about the evictions ban end.